I am feeling like sharing pictures today. Of Brugge (pronounced Broogah or Bruges per the French spelling pronounced Broogz), Belgium.
This was our first stop. We left Saturday afternoon and after getting a bit lost we got to our hotel at around 9 p.m. It wasn’t the hotel’s fault, or the Tomtom (aka Lisa), but it was the road’s fault. See, there were construction going. The road was completely blocked (the main road after one takes exit 7 to Bruges) and there was no detour sign. It wasn’t just me. There were a few other cars going around and around in circles trying to find a way around the road block. At the end we all went back onto the interstate and Lisa took us to the next exit. I had to stop along the way too because I forgot to adhere my headlight deflector so not to glare incoming traffic (illegal not to have this when driving a UK car in the mainland).
Between last minute decision making and the time when we were to arrive in Bruges I got us a hotel outside of Bruges. Usually I am a bed and breakfast kind of gal but for late night arrivals I tend to choose a hotel that’s nice while easy to get to. So I opted for Hotel Butler, a 5 minutes drive from downtown Bruges. It had free parking, wifi and breakfast was included in the price of €85. Overall, a great place to stay. Nicely decorated, very clean, good breakfast and the owners were very friendly and spoke English well (important cause I don’t speak Flemish/Dutch and the northern folks rather speak English than French it seemed). If I had more planning time and arrived earlier I would have booked a B&B inside the center. There are tons in Bruges and most (if not all the ones you can find online) you can book online (I like using Google Maps when finding my hotel/b&b and official city/town websites and b&b sites).
After a filling breakfast we set out and the first thing we did after we parked (we parked in the “Centre” parking garage, very easy to go in and out of and it’s just a five minute walk to the center) and walked to the Markt was the above. We ate, again. The waffles were sooooooooo good! Besides the architecture (medieval and spared from world war bombs) Bruges is well known for beer, chocolate, waffles, mussels, and lace. While there we tried all but the beer — I’m just not a beer drinker. I am not sure but I think the waffles cost €9. The most basic cost €5 at this place. It was at a Brasserie in front of the carriage waiting area. While the waffles were good I didn’t like the service. Our waiter was not friendly and he wasn’t too happy when this couple only came to drink. He was trying to force them to order food and made them felt bad by not ordering. I wish I remember the name of this restaurant (just so many and it was overwhelming so we just went in to the one that had an empty table).
Here’s the Markt. The square is huge and the buildings surrounding it seemed so grand to me. The day was very nice although a bit chilly at first.
While M was looking for souvenirs in one of the shops to my right (I am not a souvenir person, no shirts with I love Bruges or little mugs with Bruges) I took this photo.
After the waffles and drinks we waited in line for our carriage ride (€36/ride and 5 adults can ride comfortably — a lot of kids like to sit up front next to the horseman/lady). We got lucky and the line wasn’t long but soon after we waited it got a bit longer. I think we waited for about 30 minutes.
I thought the carriage ride was very worth it. We saw a lot in the 30 minute ride. Our guide was very friendly and answered all our questions. She told us that there are about 100 horses for the carriage rides (one horse/carriage). The city runs about 10-15 carriages a day and each horse works once a week (I forgot to ask what they do the rest of the time). In between each ride the horses take a 5 minute eat and drink break. The photo below was taken while we waited. I asked because I was always worried about the horses’ well being while pulling folks around.
We walked around the horse resting area and took photos of people eating at this restaurant.
While there are cars in the center, it’s best to explore Bruges on feet or a bicycle. There are many for rent — or bring your own. Young and old were on bikes and handsome men in their business suits (I have a thing for GQ kind of guys, HA!). Next time we’ll do this!
We didn’t do the canal ride. We only spent a day and the lines were long. It was this or the carriage ride and we opted for the carriage so that we could see more. The boat price wasn’t bad though, about €8/pp and a bit less for M. I think Jovie would have been free.
To the left of the above bridge was a little area where vendors set up booths selling toys like the below to antique goods. I did take photos of the other booths but I decided not to share because I don’t want to see what I could have bought if hubby was there with us — traveling with two little children with the car blocks away has its disadvantages. The below booth was M’s favorite booth. All the toys you see were handmade. Lots of neat stuff and the artist was fine with kids playing with them.
Around the corner from the booths was this small bridge. The horse lady told us that this was the smallest bridge in Bruges. She also said a lot of wedding couples take their photographs here. I thought this was interesting. I wonder what the photographer had to do to get rid of all the tourists. I took a photo of the girls on the bridge and there was not one instant where the bridge was vacant.
This was the view from the bridge. Boats pass under this bridge.
Walking away from the bridge we came across this water fountain and church. There’s a candy shop behind M and they do candy making demos. We watched and like a tourist I snapped some photos. But check out the blue sky!!! It was glorious!!
Between the above and some other area down the road we found this little shop that claimed to have the best hot cocoa. I really wasn’t hungry or in need of hot cocoa but the sign got me and so in we went. The hot cocoa was good! The below was how it was served. A gigantic cup filled with hot milk and chocolate chips on a chocolate cup on the side. The waitress said you dump as much chocolate as you wanted and stir. M got some chocolate mousse and Jovie feasted on some chips and mousse.
Voila, hot cocoa!! The taste? DELISH! I think I am going to start making my cocoas this way. I need to either import some chocolates or find some delish dark ones at the store here. I can’t remember how much each cost but our bill came out to be €18 and this was after buying some chocolates and waffles to take away.
Then the lace shop. While the shop gave me less of an excited feeling (just not a lacy kind of person) we had fun looking and M and I got a little something. I got a few gifties and M a little fan. Jovie didn’t care less. I thought the prices were reasonable. I’m no expert but there are many things to suit everybody’s pocket book.
We saw these folks too. I’m not sure what you call them. There was a different performer before these two. I am always amazed when I see these actors. How they could stand still for so long and just the idea of putting all the make-up on each and every time. M noticed that they only move when somebody throws money into their hat. Guess that makes sense.
The performers were acting in front of these buildings below. To the right were restaurants. The grand buildings in the center is the town hall and the smaller one on left is the perfect’s office. I believe the perfect is the head of the area. Similar to a mayor I am guessing. If you’ve read or watch Les Miserable you’d have heard of this term.
Before we left for our B&B in Lille (45 minutes away) we had dinner, a mussels dinner for me since it’s the other thing Bruges is famous for and they’re everywhere. My dish cost €15 and it came with chips aka fries. Quite a bit since I know a kilo of it cost €3.50 at the market but hey, it’s the experience that mattered.
My mussels were hot. See the steam?
The girls had tomato soup. Jovie loves soup and requests it when we go to restaurants. That girl is hard (and I mean HARD) to feed and so whatever food Jovie wants, Jovie gets (although at home she eats whatever I cook). She didn’t finish of course and I ate the rest, let me tell you, THE best tomato soup I’ve ever had! Worth the €8 or whatever Euro it was.
That’s it. We will go here again… with hubby next time. There are many more places to explore, what us girls did was just a quickie tour to scope things out. I think a full three days will give one a better taste of this wonderful picturesque city.